"Gassho-zukuri" houses, one of the traditional architectural styles in Japan, are found in a few areas along the Sho flowing from Gifu Prefecture to Toyama Prefecture. Only two small villages, Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, feature Gassho-zukuri houses. Being in the area of high snowfall as well as high rainfall, these traditional houses have a steep thatched roof to keep off the snows and rain. The shape of the roof resembles that of praying hands, the so-called "gassho" in Japanese, so this unique architectural style became to be called Gassho-zukuri. *Zukuri means style. The roof had gradually become steeper with the times, as this change goes hand in hand with sericulture. Steep roofs would have made it easy to get multi upper floors for silk raising. Some houses have three upper floors! Making the most of this structure, the heat from the fireplaces on the first floor naturally warms the silkworms on the upper floors. Thanks to this primitive heating system, the growth of the silkworms and silk production were accelerated. In this connection, the rethatching work by all locals are needed every 30-40 years though, it has gradually become difficult due to the population decrease of these villages.
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